1. vicemag:

    It Was the Best of Teens, It Was the Worst of Teens

    It was 4:20 and the teens felt great, man, but they also had impaired cognitive abilities. It was the post-9/11 era, the effects of which were being felt in increasingly tragic and bizarre ways. It was the season of light beer, the season of darkness, the season of hope. Teens were on Cloud 9, teens were going to Heaven, and the two things may have been related becauseCloud 9 was a synthetic drug sending Michigan’s youth to the hospital. History was changing, literally. In Colorado, AP US history students protested a conservative school board’s plan to emphasize “topics that promote citizenship, patriotism, and respect for authority.” It was a time a lot like the past; there was a new Bill & Ted’s movie planned and another sequel to Dumb and Dumber, featuring original stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.

    Does technology shape the culture, or does the culture shape technology? The answer to most questions is, “It’s complicated.” Yik Yak didn’t help us write this column and it was unclear if teenagers, “less concerned about privacy and data security than others,” would take tonewly-launched anti-Facebook social network Ello. Internet consumption was still high, though, as was consumption of the “rave drug Molly.” That’s why a father shared a photo of his daughter on life support, following her attendance at a Denver rave. “This could be your child. Mine was responsible and did well in school. These raves are death peddlers.” Snapchat remained a popular way for teenagers to run afoul of the law. A Wyoming high school student took a selfie whilst giving a boy oral sex and now persons who shared the image could be charged for having child pornography. Two girls were kidnapped at knifepoint after sneaking out of a slumber party. Depending on how you look at things, cell phones either helped them to safety or allowed thousands of people to listen to their harrowing post-escape 911 call.


    I’m really proud of this weeks #Teens

  2. vicemag:

    Florida Teenagers Got Caught in a Snapchat-Fueled Robbery – This Week in Teens

    Summer break sounds amazing in June, but by August the teens have grown restless. They’re broke, they’ve got all these hormones that they can’t properly act on, and Mom’s at work. Today’s teens are left at home with little more than technology and other teens to keep them company. It’s with this sense of boredom and the possibility of danger in mind that we turn to our top story This Week in Teens.

    A 15-year-old boy in Florida got a Snapchat of his cousin holding a stack of cash, so he and four of his friends decided to rob his cousin’s house. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for his cousin’s pesky dogs, and the fact that the rest of his family was home. The teens ran from the house, taking a laptop with them, but were caught by police—because that’s what happens when your aunt sees you robbing her house. This story is truly a perfect encapsulation of the way teens live now. The traditional teen traits of confusion-fueled idiocy and responding to the pressures of capitalism with petty crime are compounded by technology. Snapchat, an app that’s wildly popular among young people, is being valued at around $10 billion. Teens are an instrumental part of the app’s success, so there’s a certain poetry in the idea that the app is inspiring them to commit crimes for cash. 

    Check out the rest of This Week in Teens

    Also in this week’s This Week in Teens, I adultsplain why teens shouldn’t use cocaine and why selfies aren’t cool. Plus these two sentences that I’m really proud of: "A lack of sleep is just another factor that contributes to teens’ high-risk behavior,” is something that a pessimist might say. My glass is half full of Monster, and I choose to see high-risk behavior as high-reward behavior.

  3. vicemag:

    This Week in Teens: Are America’s Teenagers Setting Themselves on Fire? 

    Teens are America’s greatest natural resource. They’re full of new ideas, smarter than ever, and not yet racked with cynicism and guilt. Some of the best things we’ve got—rock ‘n’ roll, energy drinks, hickeys—wouldn’t exist today were it not for teen demand. Not to mention that teens are sustainable; left unchecked, they’ll create more teens just over a dozen years. And yet, to reference a perennial college freshman favorite, the teens they are a-changin’.

    The global recession hit those on the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum the hardest. Part time employment and summer jobs are now harder to come by. Consequently, teen purchasing power is on the decline. Plus, teens are good at streaming things for free, and Macklemore made them think used clothes are funny, so they have less incentive to buy new things. At this point, it’s baby boomers who have the real discretionary income. As marketers catch up to this shift, the prized demographic will become those over 55. Our nation’s youth will be forced to adapt to their ever-evolving circumstances. Will teenage ingenuity emphasize their continued relevance? Or will our younger siblings collapse into a messy room of hormones, broken curfews, and not-yet-illegal drugs? It is with this background in mind that we launch a new column: This Week in Teens.

    Talking heads are going nuts over the Fire Challenge. Photo via YouTube

    -If there’s one thing teens love, it’s trends. And if there’s one thing local news stations love, it’s scaring people who think they might come into contact with teenagers (this is easy to do as teens are inherently terrifying). Combining these two passions is this week’s top news story: Teens are taking off their shirts, standing in the shower, pouring flammable liquids on their chests, and lighting themselves on fire. Sometimes the teens start flapping around—because of the fire, remember—before they can turn on the shower, and then the flames spread to their shorts or the shower curtain and they end up in the hospital with severe burns. It’s called the Fire Challenge mom, and it’s all done in the name of internet fame.


    I’m VICE’s new Teen Editor


  4. Social Media and Obfuscation

    Two things came up today that made me think about the way in which social media—and Twitter, especially—rewards obfuscation. More precisely, it frequently punishes people who say things a little too clearly. A lot of this has to do with technical aspects; character limits, for example, mean that a meandering, vague statement lacks the easily-spread punch of “We tortured some folks.” The constant stream means that, generally, only the most notable words get noticed. (I mean this in a literal sense: your eyes gloss over, so that if a few words don’t jump out, you literally don’t see it. Think about how you do this subconsciously all the time when you scroll through your Twitter feed, in the same way that your eyes never go to the parts of pages where banner ads live.) We’re now in an environment where when the president, while defending the CIA, admits that America tortured people, everyone focuses on his word for people instead the part where America, our country, tortured a non-singular number of people, and now the president admits it, and sure it was bad, but he still stands behind the people who did it. Yes, “folks” probably wasn’t the best option here, but like, how is that the thing you focus on! We! Tortured! Some! Folks. There are three more important words in that sentence. Imagine: "Honey, I need to confess something. Last weekend, after Shakespeare in the Park, I fingerblasted the babysitter." "You did what?!? I haven’t heard that term since 9th grade lol."

    Similarly, everyone was up in arms over a now-removed op-ed called “When Genocide Is Permissible.” Obviously the follow-up to that weirdly phrased almost-question should be “Never,” but: A) It’s been reported that as much as 95% of Israelis approve of their country’s actions in Gaza (I’m not sure it’s actually that high, but it’s clearly something with wide approval). B) The situation in Gaza already is, or is rapidly approaching, the standard definition of genocide (the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation). Which means that, in the minds of many of the people in Israel (and their supporters elsewhere), this genocide is permissible. One guy had the lack of PR sense to say what millions believe, and now, instead of being something we can point as evidence of the abject inhumanity of the situation, the post has been deleted. I’m not arguing people shouldn’t have been up upset about the article, but it’s so unfortunate that we’re coming to a world where you can do almost anything, so long as you make sure the verbs will be spread out over many long, boring sentences.

  5. Untitled (Landscape), 2014

  6. Oliver’s been a bad boy

    (Source: celebrityham)

  7. (Source: summeromegadeth)


  9. The Problem of the Community Board; or, How Activists Are Both Correct and Ruining My Twitter Time

    Let’s say you’ve opened up a store that you think is really cool. It’s your dream and you’ve personally customized every detail to your liking. From the name to the products to the layout and even down to the wallpaper, it’s all you. (For some reason your store mostly sells indie rock jokes, mid-level references to the literary canon, and celebrity puns, but that’s not really what matters here. It’s your store, traditional business models can’t stop it.)

    Everything’s going great, until one day someone comes in and says, “Excuse me, but my dog’s missing. Would it be a problem if I left a flyer here, just taped to the corner by the door, so that people see it when they leave? You’ve gotta understand, Higgins means the world to be.” You’d have to be heartless to say no. 

    The next day someone else comes in, and their son is dying of cancer, but it could be treatable—only they need to raise money for an experimental operation. Now you’ve already put up a flyer about a dog, so you really have no choice but to also put up the photo placard about their human son. 

    Because this is hypothetical, the world in which your store exists has an almost infinite number of other causes too, and they’re all deserving of a spot on your wall. Even though you try to only give space to the worthiest of issues, it isn’t long before you end up with a whole corner of your store covered in flyers. Every time you look over there you end up feeling depressed, reminded of how terrible the world can be.

    But you’re also just bummed, because this isn’t how you wanted your store to be, and you can’t really do anything about it. After all, it wouldn’t help if you told people that, “I support your cause—I really do. I just don’t want to display the poster.” That’d be inaction, and you know that inaction isn’t good enough. 

    It starts to feel like your whole store is dominated by these flyers. When customers come in to the store, they don’t want to talk about your jokes, or even their own lesser jokes. They want to talk about how terrible that news on the wall is. No one even notices the rest of the place; nothing you can do competes with the urgency of these flyers. You realize that discussing the issues at hand is way more important than whatever you wanted to go on about, but that doesn’t make you feel better. For you, it simply isn’t very fun to go to the store anymore. And whenever you’re tempted to complain about how little you enjoy working there, you rightly feel like a dick. 


  10. Sometimes I will have an opinion about an issue that—despite making sense to me in a measured, evidence-based way—seems like an opinion that only other white guys hold. When this happens, I try see where other people are coming from, and usually I can, but often it still doesn’t change my thoughts. So here’s what I do: I just don’t tell anyone about my white guy opinion. I don’t pretend to hold a different view; I don’t say anything at all about the thing. And no one ever asks! Then, after a few hours or a few days, I start to believe what I’ve always known: What I think doesn’t matter anyway and I didn’t care very much to begin with. You don’t have to write about everything! You don’t have to write about anything at all!